Often couples therapy starts with one spouse or partner coming to my office with a laundry list of complaints about the other. They do not feel appreciated, they feel they do everything for the relationship and feel “less than” in the eyes of their spouse. They think that if they try harder or do more, they will get the attention and love they seek.
There are many reasons why a relationship takes a particular path and co-dependency is an involved and complicated reason why some relationships are unhealthy. If you research this on the internet you may see scary words that indicate there may be a serious problem. And sometimes the word “narcissist” is used to describe the other partner. Co-dependency sometimes arises in marriage and identifying it is the first step toward unraveling the patterns that keep you stuck in that type of relationship. In marriage, one partner depending on the other for happiness creates unhappiness.
The process of developing a co-dependent relationship evolves over time and it stems from how you learned to interact in your family of origin. We get subtle and not so subtle cues on what is expected of us and how receiving and giving love is conditional.
We see this issue when one spouse just wants to to make the other happy at a cost to themselves. This can happen at any stage of the relationship, especially when there are financial, work and outside family pressures. Your spouse is upset over something completely outside of your control but you feel you have to make it better. You try to find ways to improve a situation that is not within your ability to do so. This leads to frustration as well as feelings of inadequacy so you try even harder next time.
Working together, I can help you identify the triggers that unconsciously push you to seek out comfort, resolution, connection and love through overcompensation. It is difficult to change set patterns because by doing so we expose ourselves to feeling uncomfortable and unsettled. By identifying co-dependency and accepting that this is a pattern in your relationship, we can explore ways for you to connect without totally overwhelming your partner.
Most importantly, if you are prone to co-dependency we can start to unravel the wounds that began the dysfunctional process by which you seek out love.